Questions from Young Writers

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I ‘ve been having a blast doing School Visits lately. Here I am with my friends at Joseph Sims Elementary, in the middle of a crazy theater game.  : )  Fun! While I was there, the 2nd graders of Mrs. Wood-Kilmer’s class asked me these questions:

1. What is your favorite genre to read/write? (Ethan, Adrian Ramero) First of all, I’m amazed that 2nd graders know what a genre is! Are you sure you guys aren’t in college? Anyway, I love mysteries–from middle grades to adult. My favorite middle school mysteries are the Sammy Keyes books by Wendelin Van Draanen. My middle grades mystery, A Message From the Top Banana , is at a publisher right now, so think good publishing thoughts! I also love to read and write picture books, as you can probably tell.

2. What made you start writing? (Bailey)  When I was teaching high school drama, I wrote plays and skits for my students to perform because I couldn’t find published plays that worked for us. Teachers at the elementary school asked me to write plays for their classes too. One day, I found a book that one of my students left on stage and thought, Hmmm…maybe I could do that. I’ve always told my students to beat the If onlies . (You know: If only I was a better athlete…  If only I was taller…If only I had time to write…) So I decided to listen to my own advice and start writng!

3. How old were you when you knew you wanted to be an author? (Khushal) I certainly wasn’t in 2nd grade ! When I was in elementary school, I wanted to be the world’s best tetherball player, but they never made it an Olympic sport. : )  If you’ve heard me read excerpts from my 7th grade journal, you know that my teachers never expected me to write books some day. I liked writing notes and letters to my friends. And when I listened to music, I always wrote down the lyrics to my favorite songs. But I really didn’t think about being an author until I was a teacher.

4. How long did it take to write Goldie Locks Has Chicken Pox ? And how long did it take to get it published? (Adrian Razo)  It took four years to get published and a few weeks to write, once I started writing.  I think the hardest part about writing it was getting started. Once I began putting words on paper, instead of thinking about "writing a book some day…" I was hooked! And yes, it’s true that I carried my sloppy copy around with me everywhere, and wrote most of it in the car pool pick-up line, wating for my daughter to get out of school. The publishing process for a picture book normally takes about two years, but Goldie took a little longer because my wonderful editor at Atheneum was determined to find the perfect "match." As I explained in a previous post, editors are the ones who match writers with illustrators. And I feel VERY lucky that she matched me with such a unique and talented illustrator like Hanako Wakiyama. I love her work!

5. What made you think of mixing nursery rhymes and stories together? (Hunter)   Years ago, I directed one of my favorite musicals, "Into the Woods" by Stephen Sondheim and James LaPine, with my high school students. The idea that the nursery rhyme characters all lived in the same neighborhood kept bubbling in my brain until I wrote Goldie.

6. Have you ever made a mistake in your writing? (Isaac) You bet ! Like I tell the students in my assemblies, that’s what sloppy copies are for! And actually, I don’t think "mistakes" are bad, as long as you learn from them. A lot of great stories and inventions came from "happy accidents."  If you ask me, the only bad mistake you can make as a writer is when you have a story in your head and you don’t write it down.

7. What is your favorite children’s book? (Sammy) Oh, boy. The answer to that question changes weekly! Check my web site for some of my favorite books and authors.

8. What are you currently working on? (Nike)  I’m working on a YA novel set in the drama department of a small high school. (Gee, I wonder where that idea came from?) I also have two new picture book manuscripts bubbling out of my brain. And I’m thinking GOOD publishing thoughts for the manuscripts that are currently under consideration with publishers.

9. Will all the books rhyme? (Jordan) Most of my picture books do, but I don’t ever set out to rhyme. That’s just the way the story pops into my brain.  I have a manuscript called 100 Worms that doesn’t rhyme, and my novels are in prose as well.

10. Of your two published books, which one is your favorite? (Gaby) That’s like asking a mother which of her children is her favorite. : )  I love them all for different reasons, just like your parents love you!

Thanks again to the students at Joseph Sims  elementary. Here’s a question for you:

      How much do I like School visits?

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This much!

Time to PBIC and Write Now! Maybe you should too…

Happy Birthday Hidden Passage Books!

P1010424 Happy 2nd Birthday to my local book store, Hidden Passage Books, hiddenpassagebooks@hotmail.com , 352 Main Street in Placerville,CA !

Little Bo Peep Can’t Get To Sleep  and Goldie Locks Has Chicken Pox are big fans of owners Tom Williams and Barbara Holmes, and so am I. What a great little store! If you’re ever in "Hangtown," stop in and tell them Erin Dealey sent you. : )  Or, If you’d like an autographed copy of one of my books, and you don’t live in the area, you can purchase books through HIDDEN PASSAGE BOOKS (530) 622-4540, they’ll connect with me so I can personalize the books for you, and then send them along to you. Pretty cool, eh?

THANK YOU HIDDEN PASSAGE BOOKS. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AND MANY MANY MORE!

As for me, it’s time to PBIC (Put butt in chair) and WRITE NOW. How about you?

Fall Fun at Scholastic Books

P1010412 What are these six children’s authors doing at Scholastic Book Fair’s Fall Preview Open House? Helping Scholastic "open" their new offices in Fremont, CA, and meeting tons of wonderful people who organize book fairs in Bay Area schools.

Left to right in the front row are: Lynn Hazen with her new book Buzz Bumble to the Rescue (Smart woman! Why didn’t the rest of us think to hold up our books?), illustrator Jennifer Mattheson (Happy to Be Girls written by Sarah Davies), and Elizabeth Shreeve (The Adventures of Hector Fuller chapter book series). Back row: Pamela S. Turner (Hachiko: the True Story of a Loyal Dog), Elaine Russell (Martin McMillan and the Lost Inca City ), Erin Dealey (That’s me. I should be holding copies of Little Bo Peep Can’t Get To Sleep and Goldie Locks Has Chicken Pox. Well, at least I broght the camera…), Anne Isaacs (Swamp Angel, a Caldecott Honor Book) , and Marsha Diane Arnold (Prancing, Dancing Lily).

What do we all have in common (besides writing)? We love Author Visits and Scholastic Book Fairs! Check individual web sites for details, or go to http://www.erindealey.com .

Special thanks to Author Megan McDonald, who talked about her new book, Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid, the first in a series for Judy Moody’s little brother, AND Deborah Reichle at Scholastic for inviting us all to the festivities. More later on which schools have booked Erin Dealey for author visits. Meanwhile, time to PBIC, and WRITE!

Got Books?

Kovr_065_2 Monday morning on KOVR Sacramento Daybreak (Channel 13/ CBS)was great fun. I got to hang out with news anchors Michelle Kane and Cody Stark and talk about some awesome books. What’s not to love? Besides the middle grades books I talked about in my last post, I highlighted the following picture books: Cover_augarde

We’re Going On An Airplane a pop-up book by Steve Augarde, with lots of fun flaps and even a cock-pit for little aviators.

Cover_knufflebunny Knuffle Bunny, a "cautionary tale" by 6 time Emmy award winning Sesame Street animator/writer, Mo Willems. Trixie, Knuffle Bunny, and Daddy go to the laundromat and when they head home, Trixie realizes Knuffle Bunny is gone! Inside_knufflebunny

My favorite page is when Daddy still doesn’t know what Trixie’s trying to tell him. She had no choice….

"She bawled. She went boneless…"

Isn’t this great?

Last but not least is Wow City!Cover_wow_city by Robert Neubecker, about his daughter Izzie’s first trip from their small town in Utah to the Big Apple, NYC. Great visuals! Kids will love hunting for red-haired Izzie on each page, and a stray yellow dog that pops up each time too.  Neubecker is a NYTimes contributor.  Wow!

That’s it for today.

Have to PBIC and Write NOW!Kovr_003

Fun Author Visits and Good Books

Author_visit_burchfield_012_4 A BIG thanks to Burchfield Primary in Colusa, CA, for these photos of my recent Author Visit. It was great fun as usual and never the same, especially since I call up 10 pre-selected kids to help act out the mini-play based on my latest book, Little Bo Peep Can’t Get To Sleep. (All my improv skills and experience as a theater teacher and performer come in handy!)

Did I mention I LOVE School visits? Thanks to ALL the schools I’ve visited since Bo Peep… came out this year:

Heritage Oak, Quail Glen Elementary (Roseville); Lake Forest Elementary, Jackson Elementary (El Dorado Hills, CA); Sierra Accelerated School, Schnell School (Placerville, CA); Georgetown School, Creekside Elementary (Black Oak Unified SD); Sierra Hills Elementary (Meadow Vista, CA); Pacific Elementary (Sacramento, CA); Cosumnes Elementary (Sloughhouse, CA); Burchfield Elementary (Colusa, CA); and CottAuthor_visit_burchfield_011_2age Hill Primary (Grass Valley).

You guys rock!  Happy (almost) summer!

And speaking of summer, I’ll be appearing on Sacramento’s KOVR DAYBREAK show (Channel 13/CBS) tomorrow morning at 6:48 am for my GOT BOOKS? segment highlighting Good Summer Reads. (Set your VCRs.)

We muggles know there are only 40 days until Harry… (July 16th–can’t wait!) and of course this is the Third Summer of the Traveling Pants , Ann Brashares’ latest YA (very fun!), but my list includes books you may not have heard about:

Mmmcover6_2 Mermaid Mary Margaret by Lynn E. Hazen (Bloomsbury 2004/ reading level 7-11years) takes young readers on a cruise to the Greek Isles with spunky 4th grader, Mary Margaret, and her recently widowed grandmother. Hazen knows all about spunky kids–(She teaches pre-school in San Francisco.)–and her own grandma was from Rhodes, so this is the wonderful trip she always imagined she’d take. I loved it! And teachers will love MM’s obsession with longitude and latitude. See MMM’s clever web site: http://www.MermaidMary.com

Sacramento author Elaine N.Russel wrote Martin McMillan and the Lost Inca City (Polar BMartin_cover_2ear & Co. 2005/ Reading level 9-12 years) when she couldn’t find any middle grades books for her skateboarding son to read, and parents have been singing her praises ever since! The folks at my local book store, Hidden Passage Books, told me one mom said her son hated reading until she bought him Martin McMillan… and now he’s hooked ! Now that’s the kind of review we like to hear!

Middle Grades Teachers take note: Martin McMillan…  fits in perfectly with the Ancient Civiilzations curriculum, as Martin is dragged off by his parents on an archaeological dig in Peru, and skateboards right into a mystery involving ancient Incan treasures and a lost city.  Russell’s web site is: http://www.elainerussell.info .

Friendsforever_1 Last but not least, if your kids are bored the day after school lets out, Laura Torres’ non fiction craft how-to, Best Friends Forever (Workman 2004), is packed with projects (199 to be exact) for kids of all ages to make and share. Torres was an editor at American Girl Magazine, where she created many of the craft projects, so she knows what she’s talking about! Teachers who are looking for easy, fun projects for the whole class will love this too! See Laura’s web site at http://www.lauratorres.com .

That’s it for TODAY. Tomorrow after the KOVR spot (If I’m not too sleep deprived…), I’ll list the details of my picture book Good Summer Reads. Until then, you know what to do: PBIC and write NOW!